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McCoy on Movies: "Red" Movie Review

McCoy on Movies: "Red" Movie Review
Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and… Helen Mirren?! Get the locked and loaded scoop on the new action comedy "Red" by seeing what our reviewer thought.
"Just because I have a proper British accent and speak king's English doesn't mean I don't enjoy blasting a big machine gun every once in a while, darling." Victoria (Helen Mirren) while getting an assist from the eccentric Marvin (John Malkovich) in a scene from Summit Entertainment's film adaptation of D.C. Comics' cult graphic novel Red.

 

KEY CAST MEMBERS: Bruce Willis, Mary Louise Parker, Karl Urban, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Brian Cox, Richard Dreyfuss, Julian McMahon, Ernest Borgnine and Rebecca Pidgeon

 

WRITER: Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber (screenplay); Warren Ellis and Cully Hamne (graphic novel)

 

DIRECTOR: Robert Schwentke

 

WEB SITE: Red-TheMovie.com

 

THE PLOT: Based on the cult graphic novels by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, "Red" stars Bruce Willis as Frank Moses, a former CIA agent adjusting to retired life. That mostly consists of talking via telephone from his Cleveland home to Sarah Ross (Mary Louise Parker), a social security worker based in Kansas City. Frank is kind of sweet on Sarah, it seems. Fortunately for Frank, she seems a lil' sweet on him, too, despite never having actually met face-to-face.

 

Frank plans to visit Sarah soon to remedy that situation. There's just one little problem that comes up first: a South African-hired hit squad that turns Frank's home into a scene out of a Call of Duty video game.

 

Realizing something is amiss, Frank begins to piece together the situation (much to Sarah's chagrin) and comes to realize that he and Sarah's lives may not be the only one in danger. For now, several of his former colleagues — Joe (Morgan Freeman), the eccentric Marvin (John Malkovich) and Victoria (Helen Mirren) — may all be in line to be pushing up daisies, too. Especially with hotshot agent Wiliam Cooper (Karl Urban) gunning — literally — to track Frank down.

 

So now, the question remains: Are Frank and his crew still on top of their respective games to find out who is trying to kill them and why? Well, they're not considered to be "Retired, Extremely Dangerous" for nothing.

 

THE TAKE: Making a successful action comedy breaks down to the following: Creating a story with truly funny moments that fit the characters/ludicrous nature of the scenario they are placed in (think sharp, smart and snappy vs. making the most obvious joke possible, dragging a joke out 'till it's no longer funny and/or using clichéd methods), intense action sequences that enhance the story without breaking down into ridiculous hyper-violence and, perhaps most important of all, creating likable characters that are not human cartoons.

 

"Red," like the graphic novel upon which it is based, succeeds because of its ability to accomplish the aforementioned blueprint well.

 

A veteran in the action/action comedy game, Willis is at his best in many moments in "Red" as he makes Frank a man who, while not afraid of getting his hands dirty, resorts to violence as a last means of action. By playing Frank as smart and calm as opposed to being too cool for the room, he helps give his co-stars plenty of room to round out the story. This in turn allows Malkovich to play Martin as only wonderfully eccentric as he can, Mirren to be refined (even when wearing a cocktail dress and combat boots and firing guns) and Morgan Freeman to … well, just kinda be Morgan Freeman. Parker is also great in her limited role as the "How'd I get in this situation?!" gal while Urban comes out a winner adding more layers to his CIA agent role than one would originally suspect.

 

Of course, balancing the source material, screenplay and cast so well means Director Robert Schwentke deserves some kudos as well. For this film could have easily turned into an "Oceans Twelve" type of mess without his watchful eye. And as anyone who has seen that movie can tell you, it's a very good thing that he did not.

 

PARTING SHOT (Never has "parting shot" been so accurate ...): "Red", for all its gunplay and humor, is a serious contender for one of fall's favorite films.

 

RATING (OUT OF FOUR POSSIBLE BUCKETS OF POPCORN): 

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PHOTO CREDITS
Frank Masi. © 2010 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.
Tabari McCoy -

Tabari McCoy is Cincy Chic's movie critic. You can check out more of his work on his blog at McCoyonMovies.BlogSpot.com and follow him on Twitter at @tabarimccoy

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